This craft idea is a fun, cheap, and easy project, and the end result is a realistic-looking cake. The idea can be scaled to any size – even life-size cakes – just by using a different size of styrofoam ball. You can decorate the cake with frosting and sprinkles, or leave it plain.
The supplies you’ll need for this project will vary depending on what size cake you want, whether or not you want frosting, and what type of frosting you’d like. For this project I used two small dollhouse-miniature-size balls and a larger one for American Girl and 18-inch dolls.
Here’s what you’ll need:
For the cake:
Styrofoam ball – any size depending on the scale you want
Acrylic paint for the cake color
A sharp knife or polyblade
For the frosting:
Gel medium Regular Gel (Gloss) (for miniature cakes and life-size cakes)
Acrylic paint for the frosting color
Fabric paint (for miniature cakes only)
For the sprinkles (optional):
Polymer clay sprinkles
Embellishments for nail art
Although it may be tempting to use real cake decorating sprinkles, they’ll absorb the moisture of the gel medium or fabric paint and will dissolve.
A few notes about gel medium….
Gel medium is sold in the paint and art supply section in most craft stores and can be mixed with acrylic paint to achieve different textures in art projects. It’s a little pricy (about $17 for the container shown here) so if you’re just making a tiny cake you may wish to use fabric paint instead. You can achieve pretty much the same results and fabric paint comes in lots of fun colors. For a large cake, though, you’ll need the gel medium.
Gel medium has lots of different variations, and each one will give you slightly different results. The type I’ve used is “Regular Gel,” which most closely resembles real frosting – it holds its texture like real frosting and you can make little frosting peaks. I use the “gloss” version, which also has a more realistic frosting appearance than the matte version.
If you’d prefer to just drizzle frosting over the top of the cake, you can use Self Leveling Clear Gel, this has a runny consistency similar to royal icing or other drizzle frosting and will not hold peaks.
Let’s get started!
First, cut the top and bottom dome shapes off the ball. This works best with a sharp knife or a polyblade (a long razor blade meant for polymer clay). What’s left of the styrofoam ball should resemble a cake shape.
You can discard these pieces or save them or another project – I cut some of the pieces into rectangles for a stacked cake and used one of the full pieces for a dome-shaped cake.
If you want to have a layer of frosting in the middle of the cake, cut the piece in half lengthwise. If you’re making a large life-size cake, this will require a LOT of frosting, so you may want to skip this step and paint a stripe of frosting on the outside instead.
This is also a good time to cut out a slice of the cake if you’d like, making sure to keep track of which piece is the top and which is the bottom. I cut the slice out after painting and adding the frosting, but don’t recommend doing it this way – the frosting inside the cake was still wet, so it made a mess and you’ll have to paint the pieces without getting paint on the frosting.
Next, paint the styrofoam pieces with the acrylic paint. The paint tends to sink into the little pockets of the styrofoam, so you may need to do a second coat or even a third touch-up to make sure everything gets covered.
If you’re using fabric paint for the frosting, you can add it between the layers and place the top cake piece on top. Let it dry for a day or two before adding frosting to the outside.
If you’re using gel medium, scoop some up in a small container and add some acrylic paint. The gel medium is slightly translucent by itself and will be lighter in color when dry than wet. I used two different paint colors here.
Mix the gel medium and acrylic paint well until you can no longer see any white.
Spread the gel medium on the bottom cake layer and set the top layer on top. If you want the frosting to squish out a little, you can gently push the top layer down. I’ve used some interesting color combinations because I’m making these to match my Sugar Coated Ever After High dolls.
Let this layer dry for a day or so before adding the outside frosting. You can check to see if it’s dry by very gently trying to move the pieces. Be careful though – if it’s still wet they may separate.
Apply the outer layer of frosting and add the glitter and sprinkles. You may want to gently press larger pieces into the gel to make sure they stick.
Let this dry for another day or so and you’re done! Here are the finished cakes.
For the American Girl doll cake, I ran out of frosting because I used it all on the middle layer. So I only frosted the top and not the sides. For a larger cake I would recommend not slicing it and just “painting” on a band of frosting with the gel medium around the middle instead.